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Amendment of the Law

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:41 pm on 23rd March 2015.

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Photo of Rachel Reeves Rachel Reeves Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions 5:41 pm, 23rd March 2015

Labour’s jobs guarantee would help 150,000 people get into work in the first year of a Labour Government. I am optimistic that we can transform the lives of young people and the long-term unemployed, unlike this Government, who have left them on benefits. Funded by a repeat of the bank bonus tax they abolished and by restricting pensions tax relief to 20% for people earning more than £150,000 a year, our compulsory jobs guarantee will help young people who have been unemployed for a year and older people out of work for two years. Should that not be our priority, rather than tax cuts for bankers?

The Budget also reforms the rules governing pensions and annuities. The Opposition have long called on the Government to sort out the failing pensions and annuities markets, which result in too many hard-working savers finding their retirement pots eroded by excessive fees and poor-value products. So we welcome more freedom for savers to choose how to access their money and plan their retirement. Just as with last year’s announcement, we find the same failure to ensure that savers and pensioners have the support and protection they need to secure a decent and reliable income and to avoid the rip-offs that are already threatening to create another mis-selling crisis.

Just this weekend, we learned that with fewer than two weeks before the reforms announced in last year’s Budget come into effect, there is still no telephone number for the promised advice service, Pension Wise, leaving hundreds of thousands of savers exposed to scams that could have a devastating effect on their retirement plans. Instead, we have the ridiculous spectacle of the Pensions Minister trying to wash his hands of the responsibility by warning of the rip-offs that will result—without doing a single thing properly to protect people from those risks.